Social networking for Aboriginal land management in remote northern Australia

Woodward, E.
December 2008
Australasian Journal of Environmental Management;Dec2008, Vol. 15 Issue 4, p241
Academic Journal
Social networks play a crucial role in linking poorly-resourced community-based Aboriginal land and sea management 'ranger' groups operating in remote Northern Australia with the resources and support required to fulfil natural and cultural resource management objectives. A lack of resources and piecemeal funding demands that a significant proportion of networks utilised are directed at creating capital to support land and sea management programs, in addition to networks created for undertaking land and sea management itself. Other networks have been created with neighbouring land managers to develop cooperative and collaborative management practices. The network structure of one ranger group in the west Arnhem region of the Northern Territory was analysed, and revealed a lack of resilience due to high dependence on the externally sourced coordinator. The reliance on a web of complex networks both to support the program and to undertake management activities raises questions about the viability of such programs. In particular, the time, level of skill and associated capacity required to negotiate social network construction with a range of actors brings into question the communities' capacity to maintain the functions of the program independently. Continued functionality of these land and sea management programs may depend on simplification and streamlining of funding, removal of intensive bureaucratic reporting requirements and more active skill development of participants in network creation, particularly with actors external to the community.


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